The VICE Guide to Right Now

Psychedelics Can Be Used to Treat PTSD, Finds Yet Another Clinical Trial

New research indicates that people who were given controlled doses of ecstasy and magic mushrooms during post-traumatic stress disorder treatment showed more signs of improvement than those who did not take any drugs.
21 January 2020, 8:39am
Psychedelics can be used to treat PTSD
Photo by Arp [CC BY-SA] (left) and US Drug Enforcement Administration via
Wikimedia Commons

 (right)

Psychedelics like LSD, magic mushrooms and MDMA have always been mired in controversy. While some supporters say that they give you great happiness and sex, and take you on a spiritual journey of self-exploration, others advocate avoiding the substances completely, especially if your mind is fragile and easily susceptible.

However, while many studies talking about the usefulness of psychedelics have emerged in a time many are touting as a ‘psychedelic renaissance’, yet another study on the subject shows that they can do more than just make you feel more connected to nature or experience intense euphoria.

New research presented by the Medical University of South Carolina’s Dr Michael Mithoefer says that psychedelics like MDMA and psilocybin mushrooms can be used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event and whose symptoms include flashbacks, recurrent anxiety and nightmares.

Dr Mithoefer and his team conducted six Phase 2 clinical trials along with independent investigators in four countries. In these trials, one group of patients was given MDMA during their psychotherapy sessions, while the other was administered a placebo or low dose alternative with the same psychotherapy. The findings indicated that those who took MDMA showed more symptoms of improvement than those who did not, proving yet again that psychedelics do have therapeutic advantages.

While scientists have been fascinated with the mind-altering effects of naturally growing psychedelics since the 1950s, the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) crackdown against these substances in the 1970s put a stop to further studies that could prove their therapeutic use. However, since the start of the century, there has been a shift and the FDA has even given MDMA and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) “breakthrough therapy” designations for treating PTSD and depression respectively. Meanwhile a 2016 study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University in the US, administered high doses of psychedelics to end-stage cancer patients, and found that 80 percent of patients felt free of existential depression and anxiety. This new clinical trial is yet another addition to the list of studies conducted to show that using the thought-provoking, hallucination-inducing psychedelics could after all be the answer to treating trauma-related disorders and depression.

Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.